Of all the defects of modern government, one of the least commented upon is the religious illiteracy of our leaders. It is more than a generation since I was asked, by a student at one of the UK’s top thirty universities whether “Anglicanism was the same as Catholicism?” – and the situation has not improved. Why does it matter? Because, at least here in the UK, decisions which effect Church schools are being taken by people whose minds are so filled with contemporary preoccupations that they have no background against which to operate when taking decisions.
A Government which claims to be Conservative is determined to make all schools teach children from age 4 and up, “age-appropriate” content, that includes information about same-sex marriage and transgenderism. And, in case anyone should suppose that I am being biased in attributing the Government’s motives to a desire to be ‘up to date’ and ‘on trend,’ let me quote the former Minister, Justine Greening:
it is important that the church, in a way, keeps up and is part of a modern country. We have allowed same-sex marriage, that’s a massive step forward for the better. And for me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.
Let us pause there and deconstruct what is an Orwellian sentence.
‘Our major faiths’ will, whether they want it or not, be kept ‘up to date’ with ‘modern attitudes’ by the Government because she thinks people want it. Which ‘people’ are these?
One presumes they are not the more than fifty percent of the population who, in the recent British Elections Survey, thought that ‘gender equality’ had ‘gone far enough’. As The New Statesman commented:
It is also worth reconsidering, in the light of this data, the anger and resentment expressed in focus groups and on doorsteps about such prevalent socially conservative views being painted as bigoted, extreme or niche, when they are in fact held by majorities of British adults.
Mrs Greening was speaking for the ‘people’ she knows, the holders of liberal social attitudes which many, perhaps most, of the population do not hold. She has learnt nothing from Trump, or the Brexit fiasco, about the gap between Metropolitan social liberalism and a still prevalent social conservatism. That, of course, does not stop her, and others, claiming to be talking in the name of ‘the people’.
Dame Louise Casey, another senior government adviser, has singled out Catholics in particular. It is “not OK for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage,” she testified in the House of Commons. “I have a problem with the expression of religious conservatism because I think often it can be anti-equalities.” Well, many, perhaps most ordinary people, have a problem with her social liberalism because they think it anti-democratic, and see it as running counter to common-sense; it is unclear why an unelected adviser’s views should take precedence, especially when they are, themselves, redolent of an ancient anti-Catholic bigotry.
Dame Louise, naturally, offers no evidence that Catholic schools are homophobic. If homophobia exists in them, it is not from Catholic but societal sources. The teaching of the Church on care of and respect for homosexuals is clear. As for being ‘anti-gay marriage,’ perhaps Dame Louise is ignorant of the Catholic, and traditional, definition of ‘marriage’?
This socially liberal agenda, an artefact of a minority of the electorate, is to be foisted upon the rest of us for precisely what reason? It is certainly not because people voted for it. The current, admittedly useless, Government, committed itself in its manifesto to lifting the cap on Church schools not being able to have more than 50% of their pupils from a faith background; it has not fulfilled that pledge.
Ministers and their apparatchiks have no understanding of the religious basis on which our schools proceed, or indeed, of religion at all. Catholic, Anglican, Jewish and Muslim Schools are all being presented with an agenda here to which they cannot, in good conscience, sign up. It is an agenda which is not supported by most people, but it will be imposed upon us for our own good. The ties that bind government and people continue to loosen.
That is sad enough. What is sadder is that it being done by people who have no idea of the harm they are wreaking, and no conception of the value systems which have underpinned the civilization they are so busy undermining. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.